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Students' math and reading scores are 'devastating,' national exam reveals

Test scores for students in the U.S. have dropped to alarming levels across the country in both reading and math, according to results released on Monday from a national exam. These results reveal the "pandemic's devastating impact on students,"  The New York Times reports. 

The math results were particularly low. The scores showed the sharpest decline ever recorded by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation's report card. Eighth-grade math scores fell in almost every state, with only 26 percent receiving proficient scores, a decline from the 34 percent that passed in 2019. These test results are the first to come out since the pandemic. Fourth-grade scores declined in 41 states, with 36 percent considered proficient, down from 41 percent in the previous results, per the Times.

The rigorous exam, administered by federal officials, surveys almost 450,000 fourth and eighth graders in over 10,000 schools between January and March, per the Times. Reading scores also dropped in over half the states, with no improvement, a worrying trend that began before the pandemic. 

Last year the government made a $123 billion investment in education to help students catch up, the Times reports.

"I want to be very clear: The results in today's nation's report card are appalling and unacceptable," said Miguel Cardona, the secretary of education. "This is a moment of truth for education. How we respond to this will determine not only our recovery, but our nation's standing in the world."